SCOTUS: The Second Amendment is NOT a Second Class Right

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

For the third time in the last fourteen years, the Supreme Court has strongly held that the Second Amendment “is not a second-class right,” as Justice Thomas re-affirmed for the 6-3 majority in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. This decision was released the same day that the Senate passed the bipartisan “red flag” legislation, now law, that provided a person’s firearms may be temporarily confiscated without due process.

Thomas emphasizes and bases his opinion for the Court on the two well-known and recent Second-Amendment decisions. In DC v. Heller (2008), the Court ruled in a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Scalia that a District of Columbia law was unconstitutional. The law completely prohibited the possession of a handgun in the home—“where the defense of self, family, and property is most acute,” said Scalia—and required other firearms in the home to be unloaded and disassembled.

The Court ruled in Heller against probably the oldest argument supporting gun restrictions, namely, that because it begins with “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State,” the Second Amendment allowed firearm possession only for state militias and men when in service of militias. However, the Heller majority concluded that the Amendment secured an “individual right . . . unconnected with service in a militia.” In Bruen, Thomas, citing Heller, said that the “Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct.” Only four members of the current Court were members of the Court for the Heller decision.

In McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the Court in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Alito went beyond Heller and ruled that the right “to keep and bear arms” is a “fundamental” and “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” (citing the Glucksberg 1997 case), and that the Second Amendment was incorporated against and applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. Since the District of Columbia is not a state, incorporation was not an issue in Heller. Five members of the McDonald Court are still on the Court.

So, with recent and definitive rulings, even though by narrow margins, that the Second Amendment is an “individual” and “fundamental and deeply rooted” American right concerned with the defense of “self and family,” what did the state of New York try to do? In 2017, that state enacted a law requiring a hearing for a license to possess a firearm in the home before a judge or law-enforcement officer to show proof of “good moral character,” no criminal or mental illness history, and the absence of any “good cause” for denial (how was one to prove that negative?). To carry a concealed handgun in public, the law required the applicant to affirmatively prove that “proper cause exists” for such a license.

Such a requirement is so stiff that, as Justice Thomas noted in his opinion, a New York state court had ruled that “living or working in an area noted for criminal activity does not suffice” for a concealed carry permit. And other New York courts have ruled that the “proper cause” must concern a “particular threat” to the safety of that particular person, a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community.”

As it had already done in both Heller and McDonald, the Court in Bruen reviewed at length the entire history of public firearm regulation in the states both before and since the ratification of the Second Amendment. The Court reviewed laws and customs of medieval and early modern English history, the American colonies and early American history, pre-and post-Civil War history, and late 19th and early-20th century history. Thomas observed that there have been occasional and limited restrictions on the right to bear arms, but “None of these restrictions imposed a substantial burden on public carry analogous to that imposed by New York’s restrictive licensing regime.”

It is this objective and comparative review of “the Anglo-American history of public carry,” together with the plain text of the Second Amendment that is definitive, Thomas concludes. “We reiterate that the standard for applying the Second Amendment is as follows: When the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct. The government must then justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

In addition, Thomas points out that to “bear arms” is something a person does in public and therefore is a public right. No one “bears” but instead only possesses their firearms in the privacy of their homes. American citizens can bear concealed firearms in public.

The Court’s Bruen opinion is its latest, strong affirmation of the full constitutional status of a routinely disparaged or ignored constitutional right, showing that all constitutional rights are equal.

The five-opinion, 135-page decision also features a direct confrontation between Justice Alito in concurrence and Justice Breyer in dissent. Breyer begins his dissenting opinion with eight pages of an extra-legal and extended op-ed with sources cited about the contemporary need for firearms regulation. He begins with “Since the start of this year (2022), there have 277 reported mass shootings—an average of more than one per day.” To this, Alito retorts that a mass shooter will not be deterred by a law forbidding carrying “a handgun outside the home.” He also adds that the New York “law at issue in this case” did not stop the mass shooter in Buffalo, New York.

Breyer repeatedly emphasizes the use of guns in suicide. Alito replies again that the New York law preventing carrying handguns in public has nothing to do with suicide carried out in private. The same goes for the use of guns in domestic disputes. It has nothing to do with the case at hand. Back and forth it goes, with Alito arguing” that “our country’s high level of gun violence,” is itself a reason “that cause(s) law-abiding citizens to feel the need to carry a gun for self-defense,” and citing a source on his own: “According to survey data, defensive firearm use occurs up to 2.5 million times per year.”

In his final words at the end of his opinion, Justice Thomas sets out a right equal to all other constitutional rights:

The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 780 (plurality opinion). We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.

New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

The Court’s Bruen opinion is its latest, strong affirmation of the full constitutional status of a routinely disparaged or ignored constitutional right, showing that all constitutional rights are equal.

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This article was published in Law & Liberty and is reproduced with permission.

“Cultural Appropriation”, WokeSpeak and Other Left-Wing Canards

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

In George Orwell’s classic novel “1984,” the inhabitants of Oceania are encouraged by the Party to transition to Newspeak, a language designed to make modes of speaking, writing, and thought opposed to Party rule not merely difficult but outright impossible.  For example, passages from the Declaration of Independence could not be translated into Newspeak in accordance with their original meaning but instead would be translatable as “crimespeak.”

Like Big Brother and the Party in “1984,” the New Left in the United States today is endeavoring to transform the English language into new forms that fit New Left ideologies.  In addition to furthering the New Left’s ideology, the use of terms having the New Left’s seal of approval serves as (1) a form of virtue-signaling, and (2) a showing of obedience to the Marxist totalitarians who make up the New Left (analogous to a wilderness hiker who during the Plandemic is dutifully wearing his or her obedience mask even though no other human being is within one-half of a mile).  This seems to be especially the case in the leftist-infested world of academia.  Conversely, any failure to use New Left-approved language opens up the user to losing his or her job to the depraved woke fanatics who make up Cancel Culture.

As an example of what now may be properly termed “WokeSpeak,” consider the recent substitution of “enslaved people” for the English term that has been used for centuries, namely, “slaves.”  I can recall being taught that one should never use two words where one word will do.  Substituting “enslaved people” for “slaves” obviously violates this basic rule.  We might also ask what “enslaved people “ are being distinguished from.  Enslaved porcupines?  Enslaved e coli  ?

The truth of the matter is that WokeSpeak requires the use of “enslaved people” and prohibits the use of the more straightforward term “slaves” because “enslaved people” emphasize victimhood — “these poor people have been enslaved!”  Victimhood is a key part of the New Left’s false narrative; it is something the New Left wants to broadcast in order to advance its Manichaean vision of a world consisting of the oppressed and the oppressors.  The New Left’s intent is to create a country where all the “oppressed” classes vote the New Left into political power and are joined by those who normally would be in the oppressor category (classic examples being straight white males in general and white male corporate CEOs in particular) except for the fact that they are willing to grovel to the New Left and to apologize and beg forgiveness for being white.  This process is starting early in life.  Consider the case of third- and fourth-grade school children who are expected to apologize to their teacher and the rest of the class for being part of an “oppressor” class by reason of their skin color.  Elsewhere, we have the drumbeat for “reparations,” where those who never owned slaves are expected to pay money to those who never were slaves (but retain their membership in the “oppressed class” because some of their distant ancestors happened to be slaves).

In addition to substituting WokeSpeak for ordinary English usage to further its sinister objective of destroying America, the New Left — taking a page from Cancel Culture — prefers that certain English words not be used at all.  This has been going on for some time.  A short person is actually “vertically challenged.”  A fat person is “horizontally challenged.”  One of the more recent examples of word-holing involves the use of the word “chief.”  The use of this seemingly innocuous word is allegedly verboten because it is “cultural appropriation” and therefore a mortal insult to American Indians.

Now, one might ask, do American Indians actually object to the use of the term “chief”?  Apparently, no surveys have yet been conducted on this topic.  However, the Washington Post conducted a survey in 2016 on the much more loaded term “redskin” (as in the football team formerly named the “Washington Redskins).  It turns out that of the  504 American Indians surveyed, only about one of ten found the term “redskin” offensive.

For the New Left, though, the reality is that the views of real live American Indians on this subject count for little.  What really counts are the views of the little Hitlers and little Stalins who make up today’s New Left — such views hinging almost entirely on whether banning the use of the term “chief” or “redskin” will whip up the enthusiasm of their voter base.  If the “oppressed class” can be enlarged — even though many of those classified as “oppressed” do not actually see themselves as “oppressed”- so much the better.

On the topic of cultural appropriation, notice the howls from the New Left when a person who is not an American Indian plays an American Indian in a Hollywood movie or TV show.  Contrast this with modern Shakespearean plays where King Lear or Hamlet is played by a non-white person.  Where is all that criticism about “cultural appropriation” then?  There is none.  Crickets.  It simply doesn’t fit the narrative.

Another crusade of the New Left in the language sphere is to change the meaning of the word “woman.”  (Really — I am not making this up!)  The new preferred term for those who are born female is “pregnant people.”  The New Left is concerned that use of the word “woman” in accordance with its historic, traditional meaning has negative implications for transgender women.  According to the New Left, “women” includes not only those born females but also those who are born male who chooses to “identify” as female.  If you were wondering during the Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court nominee hearings why Judge Jackson was unable to define the term “woman” (“I’m not a biologist”, or something along those lines), you can readily see that she understood the risks of adhering to common sense, defining the term in a sensible manner and thereby mortally offending the Woke Left.  We can pass over the obvious fact that “pregnant people” fails spectacularly as a substitute for “women”:  people who are born female and who are not currently pregnant are by definition not “pregnant people”; people who are born female and have passed the age of menopause cannot be “pregnant people.”  But none of this matters to the New Left.  For a political class that believes mathematics is racist, it should not come as a surprise that they are more than willing to trash common sense and logic if it enables them to create new opportunities for virtue-signaling and a show of obedience by their acolytes.  Expect the term “pregnant people” to appear in print far more often, first in academic journals and articles, and then filtering down to internet postings and old-fashioned (but newly Marxist) newspapers.

How should we respond to the New Left’s attempt to jam WokeSpeak down the throats of the American public?  The best response, I would suggest, is satire and comedy.  Let’s make WokeSpeak as big a farce as political correctness has proven to be.  Even the most ardent Marxist of the New Left now hesitates to substitute the term “vertically challenged” for “short.”  A small victory for common sense.  The pen and the internet video are mightier than the sword — see the “Libs of Tiktok.”

With an Actual Ruling, Let’s Discuss Abortion

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

I wrote a column for the Los Angeles Times 22 years ago defining my position on abortion.  They ran it because I am pro-choice, but I expressed limitations on how advanced the pregnancy is and was in favor of no government funding.  I favor parental notice.  Not much has changed since then and I still hold 80% of Americans agree with that position.

I expressed that abortion should be pretty much limited to the first trimester.  The idea of trimesters did not even exist until Justice Harry Blackmun made it up in Roe V. Wade. In 1973 we had medical standards that were much different than today.  Are we to believe that the science surrounding abortion and a fetus in the womb has not evolved?

It has as well as the diseases that would cause many mothers to abort their unborn child. Since that time, it has become scientifically clearer that late-term abortions rarely if ever are justified and that the babies are viable. “Rare” is not the estimated 10,000 late-term abortions currently performed every year. I have since written that for many on the Left, there are three issues about which they are concerned – abortion, abortion, and abortion.  Little has changed.

I also expressed that the argument that exists today was created because the Left does what it normally does.  “We won; the government should pay.”  That irked the people who are pro-life.  Not only are they against abortion, but now they were being forced to underwrite the cost. The Left always wants to spend OPM (other people’s money). 

It has become quite clear to anyone following this situation that Roe v. Wade resolved nothing in the country regarding abortion.  Many of us who are pro-choice have come to understand it was a terrible ruling with no basis in law or history and that the issue should be returned to the elected representatives in the states in accordance with our Constitution.  Now the U.S. Supreme Court has apparently agreed.

The hysteria that happened because of a leaked draft – written nearly three months previously — would have been the exact same hysteria that happened when the actual decision was handed down.  This means the leaker either thought they could possibly influence the Justices to change their votes, or they thought at worst there would be two moments of hysteria.

I read many of the commentaries across the spectrum and noted that not one commentary from the Left saw anything wrong with the leaker’s action.  In fact, there were columns about how the GOP wanted to go after the leaker as if there were something illegitimate in doing so.  This is another shining example of the Left believing that any action is fine when you have “righteousness” on your side.  The sanctity of our Constitution and a branch of government is minuscule when you are armed with your righteousness.

There is a very limited group of people that could have done this leak.  The fact the DOJ and FBI have not found the leaker shows that they are not attempting to do such and how broken our Justice System has become.  Just like their lack of prosecuting anyone for the violence against the facilities that encourage birth over abortion.  Don’t be shocked if we see more violence in the coming days and nothing is done about it.  It will be branded “righteous” violence.

The most fabulous take on the leak was from the deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post.  Ruth Marcus stated, “One theory — my leading theory — is that the leak came from the conservative side, possibly from a clerk for a conservative justice concerned that the seeming majority, ready to do away with the constitutional right to abortion, might be unraveling.” You must have a fantabulous imagination to dream up that one.

This does not have to do with women’s health.  This has everything to do with one thing – abortion.  In a prior column, I analyzed the materials of Planned Parenthood and the misleading information they provide about medical services such as pap smears.  They don’t really address alternatives to abortion.  At this time, they should more accurately rename themselves as Planned Non-Parenthood.

The most hilarious observation was supposed all the additional things next up for termination on the right-wing agenda.  The best is the one where the court would end inter-racial marriage.  Other than you would have to terminate millions upon millions of marriages in America, the great melting pot, they probably think the charge will be led by Justice Clarence Thomas, you know the black guy married to a white woman.  Gosh, these people can get hysterical in a flash.

Currently, various states are establishing their policies.  The Left has drawn a dark view of the states that haven’t yet touched the law.  They purported that states with abortion bans after fifteen weeks somehow ban abortion as if abortions are not allowed at all in those states. I read and heard people who otherwise could care less about the “flyover states” suddenly waxing poetic about the women of Alabama.  Who believes that they now care about them? Let’s see how this entire thing shakes out which will take a few years.

Legislators will now have to listen to the people of their state and legislate what their voters want on this issue.  Governors will have to decide whether to sign the bills and then enforce the law.  That is how this country works.  If all the howling people honestly believe most Americans are in favor of abortion, they should welcome this process. 

Amazon has already announced it will pay $4,000 for an employee to transit to another state for the procedure.  Other companies may do similar measures.  Maybe all these people who believe unfettered abortions are critical will have to pony up some money of their own.    That would be novel.

Repealing Roe V. Wade merely returns abortion policy to the states and to democratic debate where it properly belongs. Nothing else.

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This article was published in Flash Report and is reproduced with permission from the author.

 

 

Energy Shortages and Inflation The New Norm as Refinery Closures Outpace Construction

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Editors’ Note: Progressives have played a coy game. As they over-regulate the energy business, denigrate the industry, have their allies in the environmental organization tie the industry up with lawsuits, and deny capital for expansion with their friends in the ESG movement; they grin like the proverbial Cheshire cat when energy costs soar far faster than the general rate of inflation. Grinning through their teeth they blame the industry, blame Putin, and blame us for wanting reasonably priced oil and gas. But you can’t shut down capacity as demand is expanding and expect lower prices. That defies all economic logic. Voters need to remember that this strangulation of energy is all part of the Progressive/Democrat plan to control your lives, make you more dependent on them, and reduce your standard of living. Some might say that is unfair on our part; it is the save the environment. If that were true, why would they permit capacity to be built elsewhere? Why are Chinese emissions better than ours? They aren’t and the earth can’t tell the difference. If anything, US energy corporations are more diligent in protecting the environment than most foreign operators. No, the energy crisis is contrived by Democrats for political control, not to save the earth. Further, it leaves us vulnerable to foreign producers, many of whom are bad actors. For a better economy, a better environment, and for national security, we need to get off the back of our domestic energy industry.

 

With worldwide refinery closures outpacing new construction, shortages and inflation are likely to be the new norm that inflicts regressive expenses upon those that can least afford it, as control of the worldwide refining industry shifts to Asia and Europe.

As the world has become impassioned with increasing its electricity generation from wind turbines and solar panels from breezes and sunshine, the world is silently slipping into a future of shortages and inflation as society’s demands for all the products and fuels manufactured from crude oil are exceeding the supply available from the dwindling number of refineries.

There were almost 700 oil refineries in the world as of January 2020, but as a result of continuous over regulations, permitting delays, aging equipment,  and the worldwide support of the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) to divest in fossil fuels, the right operating model and level of integration will be crucial for survival and sustained profitability of refineries.

In 2019 there were 135 refineries in the U.S.  but five facilities were shuttered during the last two years.

Each refinery location is a business that needs to make business decisions. Consequently, one in five oil refineries is expected to cease operations over the next five years. One in five is 20 percent, or almost 140 refineries expected to be shuttered worldwide, resulting in a 20 percent decline in the products manufactured to meet the ever-increasing demands from society.

There are over 100 new refineries under construction, with most of them in Asia with 88, Europe with 12, and North America with 10. Asia is the region with the greatest number of future petroleum refineries. As of 2021, there were 88 new facilities in planning or under construction in Asia. By comparison, Europe is set to see an addition of 12 petroleum refineries, and North America is set to see an addition of 10. The amount of oil fed through refineries in Asia has significantly increased in the past three decades as demand for petroleum products surged in developing countries such as China and India. China is on track to succeed the United States as the country with the greatest oil refinery throughput.

While worldwide demand for the products made with oil derivatives and fuels manufactured at refineries continues to increase, the upcoming closures of manufacturers over the next five years will significantly reduce the supply of those items and place tremendous pressures on continuous shortages and inflation.

Renewables can only generate electricity, and intermittent electricity at best. The undisputable science is that renewables CANNOT manufacture any of the oil derivatives that are the basis of the thousands of products that are the foundation of societies and economies around the world. In fact, renewables cannot exist without crude oil as all the parts of wind turbines and solar panels are made with oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil.

Here is a reminder of what is manufactured from oil that did not exist before 1900 that is needed to support the growing demands of the world’s economy and for the health and well-being of the world’s eight billion residents:

Fuels for the:

  • 50,000 heavy-weight and long-range merchant ships that are moving products throughout the world.
  • 50,000 heavy-weight and long-range jets are used by commercial airlines, private usage, and the military.
  • The 290 million registered vehicles in the U.S. as of 2021, were comprised of about 56 percent trucks, 40 percent cars, and 4 percent motorcycles.
  • The cruise ships now move twenty-five million passengers around the world.
  • The space program.

Oil derivatives to make thousands of products such as:

  • Tires for the billions of vehicles.
  • Asphalt for the millions of miles of roadways.
  • Medications and medical equipment.
  • Vaccines.
  • Communications systems, including cell phones, computers, iPhones, and iPads.
  • Water filtration systems.
  • Sanitation systems.
  • Fertilizers that come from natural gas help feed billions.
  • Pesticides to control locusts and other pests.
  • Wind turbines and solar panels are all made with products from fossil fuels.

With worldwide refinery closures outpacing new construction, shortages and inflation are likely to be the new norm that inflicts regressive expenses upon those that can least afford it.

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This article was published by CFACT, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and is reproduced with permission.

Why Both Republicans And Democrats Are Wrong About Bill Barr

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

That U.S. prosecutors didn’t find ballot-stuffing in Detroit and Atlanta says nothing about whether there were systemic violations of election law and illegal voting in 2020.

 

Last week, the Jan. 6“Committee” featured video clips from former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr during its hearing on the violence that erupted at the capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. For the few Americans following the show trial, Barr’s testimony seemed a denial by former President Donald Trump’s top law enforcement officer of any legitimate basis to challenge the outcome of the November 2020 election.

To Democrats, this proved Trump sought to steal the White House from Biden via a coup. To Republicans, Barr revealed himself as a traitor uninterested in investigating voter fraud. Neither view is correct.

Stock Market Swoon Pulls Rug Out from under Luxury Home Sales

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The June sell-off did a job on them.

 

Manhattan luxury real estate vs. stock market downward spiral in June: In the week through June 19, only 12 sales contracts were signed for condos, co-ops, and townhouses with asking prices of $4 million and above, the worst week since the week of December 28, 2020 (with 10 contracts), according to today’s weekly report by Olshan Realty.

The number of contracts was about one-third of the average number of contracts signed in the prior 52 weeks, and down 70% from the same week in June last year (41 sales).

“This anemic performance coincided with the S&P 500 Index dropping 5.8%, its worst week since March 2020. The S&P has fallen 11 of the last 12 weeks,” Olshan’s report said.

An analysis by Redfin, released earlier in June, found that sales of luxury homes – priced in the top 5% of the local market – during the three-month period through April across the US plunged by about 18% year over year — a much smaller drop than what is now occurring in Manhattan. But the Redfin report was for data only through April, and stocks have dropped quite a bit further since then.

“There are only two instances in the past decade when there were steeper declines: the three months ending June 30, 2020 (-23.6%) and the three months ending May 31, 2020 (-21.6%),” the Redfin report said……

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Continue reading this article at  Wolf Street.

Want to Understand the Inflation Problem? Look to Harvey Road, Not Pennsylvania Avenue

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

As news headlines have reported, the US economy today suffers its worst inflation in two generations. Not coincidentally, US public debt is also at its all-time high. As if on cue, opposition pundits are blaming the Biden administration, whose apologists, in turn, blame Russia and corporate greed while touting the success of Washington’s $5 trillion in recent crisis spending. This partisan and ideological bickering misses the central point.

Some economists know better than to treat today’s economic woes as a partisan problem with roots in the 2020 election. Alan Blinder of Princeton University, for example, has for several years complained that politics gets in the way of smart ideas. Professor Blinder’s “lamppost problem” suggests that we would not be here had past policies not fallen victim to the politicization of ideal economics. Moving forward, mainstream economists join Professor Blinder in saying that we now must aggressively neutralize politics, unchain the ideas of intellectual elites, and finally—hallelujah!—let smart policies rule. Never mind that these same economists have admitted fault for getting it wrong, thus vindicating the steady analyses of AIER’s Sound Money Project directed by Will Luther.

Let’s be honest. Even gifted Ivy League economists must have trouble keeping a straight face while recommending that we take politics out of the equation. This is America, after all. Aren’t we the world’s shining exemplar of political inclusion? Sure we are. Yet puzzlingly, there is a long line of thinkers who say that we should replace politics with the judgment of elites. In today’s monetary and fiscal policy, this thought goes back to at least the days of John Maynard Keynes.

On the eve of the early 1980s high inflation rates, mainline economists James Buchanan and Richard Wagner drew attention to the rising debt and inflationary risks of the time. Their 1977 book carried the evocative title, Democracy in Deficit: The Political Legacy of Lord Keynes. Buchanan and Wagner’s prose minced few words, describing the Keynesian influence as the culprit behind “continuing and increasing budget deficits, a rapidly growing governmental sector, high unemployment, apparently permanent and perhaps increasing inflation, and accompanying disenchantment with the American sociopolitical order.”

Buchanan and Wagner argue that the post-Keynesian era suffers from the “presuppositions of Harvey Road.” Harvey Road is a reference to the Keynes family home in Cambridge. A biographer of Keynes, R. F. Harrod, coined this “presuppositions” expression, and Buchanan and Wagner use it to argue that Keynes’s economic theory operates in a political vacuum where the world of monetary and fiscal policy is carried out by wise men in authority. This intellectual aristocracy could ensure conditions of prosperity, freedom, and even peace. In 2011, after President Obama’s stimulus package, many remarked that “Keynes was back.” In reality, the Keynesian influence never died, and modern macroeconomists and policymakers still suffer from the presuppositions of Harvey Road.

Following Harrod’s description, today’s politicians, Federal Reserve officials, and mainstream macroeconomists still posture as enlightened, wise people, who therefore know from their expert analysis what is the best course of action. These elites are also trusted as benevolent people, therefore, they can be trusted to choose the course of action that is best for society. Finally, they are deemed reasonable people, therefore, they will seek to persuade one another and the general public that their chosen course is the best course. Is it just us, or does this 45-year-old description seem more apropos than ever in 2022?

While the proverbial lampposts might shine more brightly along Pennsylvania Avenue than along Harvey Road, let us not fall victim to casting central blame along the former. America’s fallible and often mistaken ruling elites have fanned the flames of today’s economic dumpster fire. It may be tempting to jump to the conclusion that we should replace the “intellectual aristocracy” with democracy. Again, this is America. But when you look closely at the history behind these problems, as we have done in our recent and ongoing work, it becomes clear that unchained democracy has been part of the problem, and crisis periods have justified all of us in treating the government as a fiscal commons.

Perhaps the central point for today’s inflation problem is that we cannot remove the political dimension, but we can better insulate our fiscal and monetary house from the foul sides of politics. One part of the course forward should be to replace trust in politics and elites with acceptance, followed by restraint. This requires recognition that politicians and ruling elites are neither angels nor wizards, and that voter demand for largesse deserves moral judgment alongside corporate greed. From the standpoint of a healthy economy, it is wrong for big business to rent-seek its way to corporate welfare. It is wrong for households to demand loose money to bubble up home values and retirement plans. It is wrong for politicians to take credit for loose budgets and every economic success while bickering over blame for their failures. And it is wrong for Fed officials to invent new instruments of control that transforms their jobs into old-fashioned central planning. Taking politics out means adopting ex-ante rules that retrain all of us from treating the government like a fiscal commons. Instead of replacing smart elites with unchained democracy, we should turn to “small c” constitutional constraint and republican governance. A bipartisan generation of loose money and loose budgets has created major negative spillover effects, and today’s inflation problem is what we all have to show for it.

Taking Buchanan and Wagner’s Democracy in Deficit seriously means putting the focus on political morality and institutional rules. These rules restrain discretion in monetary policy and limit both the scope and scale of fiscal policy. AIER’s Alex Salter and others are right that we need Milton Friedman back now more than ever. But even more so, we need Buchanan and Wagner to take front and center in the political and economic discussion.

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This article was published at AIER, American Institute of Economic Research, and is reproduced with permission.

Biden and Powell Are in Denial—A Recession Is Indeed “Inevitable”

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

And they are the ones who made it so.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced that it will “raise” interest rates faster than previously planned in order to “fight” worsening inflation.

In a press conference, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell tried to assure investors and the public that the Fed is, “not trying to induce a recession now. Let’s be clear about that.” As the Wall Street Journal reported, Powell “still believes [the Federal Reserve] can cool the economy and bring down inflation while engineering a so-called soft landing in which the economy and labor market continue to grow.”

On Thursday, President Biden was similarly hopeful, telling the Associated Press that a recession is “not inevitable.”

That same day, investors splashed cold water on Biden and Powell’s hopes. After the Fed’s announcement, markets briefly rallied before tumbling yet again.

Yet it’s not just traders who beg to differ with the rosy optimism emanating from the White House and the Fed, but economic reality itself. Biden and Powell are in denial. A soft landing is impossible, a recession is inevitable, and it is their own policies that made it so.

Media reports tend to leave out why the Fed thinks raising interest rates will fight inflation in the first place. First of all, it is grossly misleading to say that the Fed “raises” interest rates or “fights” inflation.

Imagine a bully pins down one of his victims. If the bully eases up, allowing the victim to stand up on his own, you wouldn’t say that the bully “raised” up his victim. Yet that is basically what the Fed is doing with regard to interest rates. The Fed has been holding down interest rates, and now it’s relenting a bit to allow them to rise somewhat.

And imagine an arsonist pumps gasoline on a fire. If the arsonist eases up on the pump, allowing the fire to die down a bit, you wouldn’t say that the arsonist is “fighting” the fire. Yet that is basically what the Fed is doing with inflation. The Fed has been driving up inflation, and now it’s relenting a bit to allow prices to moderate somewhat.

The way the Fed holds down interest rates is by “quantitative easing,” a euphemism for flooding the banking system with newly created dollars. The Fed has been holding interest rates down to near zero by injecting trillions of new dollars into the banks.

More money chasing the same amount of goods will tend to bid up prices. Federal Reserve bureaucrats are at least economically literate enough to be aware of that, so they know their money pumping is fueling the flames of inflation. And the inflation conflagration is getting dangerous enough to back them into a corner. They feel they have no other choice but to ease up on the pump, even if it means allowing interest rates to rise.

Fed policymakers are highly reluctant to do so, because the main reason they have been holding interest rates down has been to “stimulate” the economy, especially in the face of COVID and the lockdowns. Many investors and economists fear that an economy with less monetary stimulus will crash and fall into a recession.

But what almost nobody understands is what crashes and recessions even are and why they happen. And they have no excuse, because that was clarified way back in 1912 by the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises.

As Mises explained, crashes and recessions are made inevitable by monetary stimulus. Money pumping can only stimulate the economy by overextending it.

The extra money sloshing around the banking system lowers the interest rate by boosting investor demand for resources to use in new and expanded production projects. This means more investment opportunities, higher profits, more jobs, and higher wages: i.e., a “stimulated” economy.

New and expanded production projects would be fine and great if they were matched by new and expanded resources to support them—made available by higher savings. That’s what a natural drop in the interest rate would signify. But the infusion of new money only expands production; it does nothing to reduce present consumption and thus increase savings. So it results in an over-commitment of available resources.

It’s the simple logic of scarcity: we have (1) the same finite stock of resources, (2) more production demands for resources, and (3) the same (if not more) consumption demands for resources.

Eventually, something’s gotta give.

The Fed’s money pumping only “stimulates” the economy by deluding investors into behaving as if there are more available resources in the economy than there actually are. At some point, that delusion must run headlong into economic reality.

Generally, that happens when the Fed finally eases up on pumping money into the banking system. With less new money pumping it up, the effective demand of investors for resources collapses back down to a level compatible with consumer demand and the actual rate of saving. Deluded less by monetary stimulus, market actors start reckoning with economic reality. The interest rate spikes, stock prices collapse, and throughout the economy, production projects that looked like profitable winners are revealed to be unaffordable losers (“malinvestments”).

That is what a crash is.

Entrepreneurs then scale back or liquidate the loser projects, reallocating resources (including human resources) to uses that are more compatible with the now clearer economic reality. That reallocation can only happen through a mass change of partners throughout the economy. This means many painful “break-ups” of impractical economic relationships: lay-offs, contract cancellations, bankruptcies, etc.

That is what a recession is.

Those break-ups are prerequisites to the formation of new, more practical economic relationships: new jobs being filled, new contracts being signed, and new businesses being started.

That is what recovery is. The result is a healthier economy. And the only path from an unhealthy economy to a healthier one is through a recession.

That is why Biden and Powell are wrong. A recession is inevitable. It’s also necessary. It was made inevitable and necessary by their own policies: by Biden (as well as President Trump before him) crippling the economy with lockdowns and other destructive policies, and by Powell “stimulating” the crippled economy into a distorted, overextended, and unsustainable condition.

The only way to heal that condition is to let the economy heal itself through a recession. And the sooner that Biden and Powell let that happen, the better.

*****

This article was published by FEE, Foundation for Economic Education and is reproduced with permission.

Bill Maher Says Donald Trump Will Easily Win In 2024 If He ‘Can Just Let Go’ Of 2020

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bill Maher thinks Donald Trump can cruise to a win in 2024 if he just lets the 2020 election go.

Why? Well, Drag Queen Story Hour might be enough to propel Trump to a victory, according to Maher.

“And I just thought, you know, if Trump could just let go of the election, which he can’t, he can win this so easy because he can win just on Drag Queen Story Hour…Again, if he could just let go of the election, but at this point, you know, he’s just like a hotel room that smells at some point you just want a new room, you know what I mean? And DeSantis, I mean, he’s just more is more vibrant, if you like people who don’t lose elections and, you know,” Maher said when talking about Trump’s election chances, according to Fox News.

 

It’s hard to argue with Maher’s comments about Trump and DeSantis. It seems like the crazy people on both fringes are dominating the narrative, but the difference is that one side definitely doesn’t think it’s okay for young children to be subjected to sexual material.

As we’ve seen time and time again, parents care about looking out for their children, and the justified outrage over the fact children were brought to a drag show shows people are not happy.

Maher has often said he hasn’t gotten more conservative but that liberals have just gone way too far to the left. Judging from his comments, he’d apply that mindset to Trump crushing the field in 2024 if he can just stop with the 2020 talk.

I think most rational observers will agree with his assessment. The crazier America gets with insane stuff, especially stuff targeted at kids, the better it is for politicians on the right.

*****
This article is published by The Daily Caller News Foundation and is reproduced with permission.

Underrated Elvis

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

One might think that calling a performer “underrated” for whom 84,000 people have listed their profession as “Elvis Impersonator” on tax returns is a crazy statement. Yet, with the upcoming Elvis movie (June 24), he will still not be regarded as the remarkable vocalist he was before he left us.

The idea of calling him “underrated” might immediately be rejected because his career was overwhelmingly successful. But that career never totally veered from the moment he burst onto the scene with his September 9, 1956, tamed-down, hip-swiveling performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. As a rock ‘n’ roller, he was never considered a vocalist, especially compared to the era’s greats, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tony Bennett.

Elvis was a victim of his own success. From the time of his first recordings at Sun Records he changed the face of the music business. Sam Phillips was seeking a white singer who could capture the essence of the black artists he had been recording. When Elvis broke out into a revved-up version of an old blues classic, That’s All Right Mama, Phillips knew he had his man and the world changed.

One need only listen to his CD 30 #1 hits to question calling him underrated. Not only that, but you can also obtain an album called 2nd to None of his 30 hit songs that did not make it to number one. An album you can listen to and think, oh my, how were these not number ones? Songs like Little Sister, An American Trilogy, Viva Las Vegas, and Kentucky Rain. Many of these songs provide a hint about what a great vocalist he was; he was not just a rock ‘n’ roller.

Elvis was carefully managed in terms of his music from the moment he left Sun Records, which likely kept him from being regarded as such a great singer. His contract was sold to RCA, where he had greater song choices, but public perception kept his persona as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Elvis aficionados know that Elvis did not just record a song. Elvis started in the era before singer-songwriters became common and had remarkable success long after Bob Dylan and The Beatles became famous. As a songwriter, who would you want to sing your song other than Elvis Presley? The Colonel set up a system of testing songs for Elvis long before Elvis got to them.

A full-out recording of a particular song was done with another singer in place of Elvis. For a long time, that singer was a gentleman named Glen Campbell. If you do not know the name, Campbell was a fabulous guitarist who became a wildly successful recording artist in his own right. Campbell recorded songs for Elvis from 1964-1968. This was in between his many recordings with the famous Wrecking Crew, a premier studio ensemble that you have listened to all your life.

You can now find 18 of those Campbell recordings on a recently released album called Sings for the King. One gets a sense of the process employed to evaluate a potential Elvis Song. After the songs got a full-out production with a first-class singer they were presented to Elvis. Twelve of the songs on the album were chosen to be recorded by the King.

Elvis thought his career was over when he spent two years in the Army. He returned to record the album Elvis Is Back! He began to display is vocal dexterity partly enhanced by the fact his vocal range was extended one octave while in the service. Just two of the cuts show his evolution with his recording of the Peggy Lee classic, Fever, and The Drifters, Such a Night.

Delve into the four-record set Elvis Back in Nashville or Elvis with the Royal Philharmonic. You begin to sense his greatness as a singer and the diversity of his range. Pick up one of his Christmas CDs where he makes Christmas a delight. Or there is Elvis: Great Country Songs where it conquers another genre. Elvis in Memphis is another means to grasp what a great vocalist he had become.

I first learned of Elvis’ diversity when he recorded in 1966 Bob Dylan’s Tomorrow is a Long Time. Dylan stated it was his favorite recording of one of his songs by another artist. Elvis also recorded Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right.

The movie Elvis will remind you of the Elvis we all know. Spend some time learning about the Elvis that is not as widely circulated. You will be richly rewarded.

*****

This article was published by FlashReport and is reproduced with permission from the author.